Music streaming sector: EU must ensure just pay for artists and fair algorithms

The European Parliament has called for EU rules to ensure the music streaming sector is fair and sustainable and to promote cultural diversity


The European Parliament has called for EU rules to ensure the music streaming sector is fair and sustainable and to promote cultural diversity.

In a resolution adopted by 532 votes to 61 and 33 abstentions, MEPs have asked for the imbalance in revenue allocation from the music streaming market to be addressed, as it currently leaves a majority of authors and performers with very low compensation.

They insist on a new EU legal framework for the sector, for which currently no European Union rules apply, even though streaming services are the main way that people access music.

Digital music platforms and music sharing services currently provide access to up to 100 million tracks either for free or for a comparatively low monthly subscription fee. Streaming represents 67% of the music sector’s global revenue, with an annual revenue of 22.6 billion USD.

Fair pay for authors

The “pre-digital royalty rates” currently applied must be revised, they say, condemning the payola schemes that force authors to accept lower or no revenues in exchange for greater visibility.

EU action is needed to guarantee European musical works are visible, prominent and accessible, among the “overwhelming amount” of constantly growing content on music streaming platforms, says the text. MEPs propose to “reflect on the possibility” of imposing concrete measures, such as quotas for European musical works.

Transparency of AI tools

The EU bill should oblige platforms to make their algorithms and recommendation tools transparent, to prevent unfair practices, such as manipulation of streaming figures, allegedly used to reduce artists’ fees.

MEPs suggest introducing a label to inform the public when the songs they listen to have been generated by Artificial Intelligence (AI) and urge for deep fakes on music streaming platforms (that use identities, voices and likenesses of authors without their consent) to be tackled.

The rules should also oblige streaming platforms to identify right-holders by correctly allocating metadata to make their works more visible, they add.

Support for musical diversity

Finally, MEPs point to studies indicating that revenues in the streaming market go primarily to major labels and a few most popular artists, while the less popular styles and less common languages are played less frequently.

EU legislation should include diversity indicators to assess the array of genres and languages available and the presence of independent authors, and a European industrial strategy for music should promote the diversity of the European music sector, boosting smaller players.

Rapporteur Ibán García Del Blanco (S&D, Spain) said: “The Parliament is giving voice to the concerns of European creators, who are at the heart of the music streaming market. Cultural diversity and ensuring that authors are credited and fairly paid has always been our priority; this is why we ask for rules that ensure algorithms and recommendation tools used by music streaming services are transparent as well as in their use of AI tools, placing European authors at the centre.”

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